Healthy nutrition is a big part of my life, and obviously I also want that our kids are adapting healthy nutrition habits. But how do I communicate or teach a four year old that some foods are healthier than others? My experience shows that they are not very interested in the arguments about "the importance of healthy nutrition" that I bring on the table 😉 Our kids are menawhile almost five and seven years old, and until about a year or so ago for me it was a constant challenge to make sure that they get enough vegetables and fruits.
When they were little, they would eat pretty much what we were having! Of course we wanted to teach them about healthy nutrition by example and not so much by talking. There were no complains, and they were willing to try whatever we put in front of them. For a while that worked and we were of course super happy that it is so easy! However that whole "being open to try any type of food" changed with both of them right about the time when they turned two. Both of them stopped eating any type of fruit, refused to drink their freshly squeezed orange juices, started being very picky about what they wanted to eat and what not! It was very frustrating for me because I wanted to make sure that they get enough healthy nutrition each day.
My husband and I tried different techniques - from taking them to the grocery store with me, letting them help us with cooking, to just telling them there is nothing else to eat besides what we had prepared. My husband even started thinking of creative and funny ways to present them the food - for example cut the vegetables and fruits in different animal forms........but nothing seemed to work! I don't know whether this change has anything to do with the food they were exposed at nursery (both of them started with one and a half!). But having gone through the same experience with both of our kids, I guess this is normal. I mean kids go through so many phases.
Meanwhile we have the two rule at home that we follow:
- first one is that whatever we put on the table they have to try. In the beginning it was a bit of a struggle, but meanwhile they are used to it....and a lot of times end up liking what we have prepared
- they are allowed to have a small chocolate or sweet treat on daily basis, but not later than 4pm!
I also use every opportunity to expose them to healthy foods, by:
- taking them with me to the grocery store, which is a great opportunity to talk about what is healthy and what is not so healthy
- offering them only healthy options for snack time,
- or whenever possible go with them to a farm to get the fruits or veggies ourselves
We also talk to them and explain why certain foods (for example sugar, sweets and chocolate) are not healthy; or why we can have certain foods only every once in a while. Now that they are a bit older, it seems that they understand more and the reasoning behind certain restrictions.
One thing that I have come to realize is that the less I make a big deal out of the fact that they don't want to eat this or that, the quicker they start asking for certain fruits or vegetables. What I am seeing with my son now all of a sudden is that he is back into eating a lot of different fruits, he is actively asking to have a fruit, and on most days he wants to drink a glass of my green smoothie. My hope is that when our daughter sees that he is eating all these foods, she would also want to eat them.......but I assume that this is a phase that every child goes through and it will pass by!
Share what have your nutrition experiences been with your kids.
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